when clinging, there was dirt. there were palms against walls.
every light was false. every rush of water suspected, or carried.
breath made the air humid and tired; men made the air stale; warm.
every step towards light was a climb. and then light falling.
dawn looked like dusk looked like a handful of dirt too close to the eye.
for each dollar a man brought home, shifting buckets of black gold
one shoulder to the next, cramped exhaustion like a breath held
in the lungs. the fear to breathe, the toxicity of inhaling, little known
except how to shoulder gold; how to light a fuse and turn rock to dust.
no ache as precious as the need for light.
a man could thirst for hours to drink one drop.
feldspar that whispered as it shattered.
a man could come to love this sound if he wasn’t careful.
a man could talk about the alternating layers of salt as if they were lovers.
he could caress his fingers over the smoothness of three billion years and think,
this is a soft breast to cradle.
what every man who has mined the earth has always known:
every sigh underground recorded, no such thing as a rock wasted.